Hong Kong leadership hopefuls Carrie Lam and John Tsang accept police protection, but Woo Kwok-hing says no to bodyguards

The former judge turns down the police offer, saying he likes reaching out to people without inhibition

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 7:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 10:19pm

Elite police officers from the VIP Protection Unit – previously known as G4 – will provide protection for chief executive hopefuls Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and John Tsang Chun-wah throughout the leadership race, the Post has learned.

But their rival, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, turned down the service as he said he enjoyed reaching out to the people without inhibition.

It is understood the service is being provided in accordance with regulations concerning security arrangements for the chief executive.

A police insider said the force had approached the contenders and offered them protection once their candidacy was confirmed.

“The scale of protection depends on the candidate’s risk and needs. We have to work out a plan with the hopeful,” the source said.

“Some people don’t like having a bodyguard around the clock, while some might want one as they have been tagged or are prone to attacks.”

The campaign office of former finance minster Tsang told the Post that he had accepted the security arrangement offered by the police, but refused to give details.

Former chief secretary Carrie Lam was dogged by protests when she unveiled her election platform on Monday and submitted her nomination forms to the Electoral Affairs Commission on Tuesday.

Lam’s campaign office said the team was negotiating arrangements with the force and believed protection was needed only during public campaigning.

The police source said the force could provide female bodyguards upon request.

Woo said the police had advised his team to contact them over the provision of a protection service, but he did not see the need for it.

“There is no perceivable [threat] to my personal security and I enjoy reaching out to the people uninhibited,” Woo said.

However, the police source said: “Even if Woo does not need personal protection with a bodyguard, we will still tighten security around his workplace and home.”

A police spokesman said the force provided security services to all chief executive candidates with a view to ensuring that election events were conducted peacefully and in an orderly manner. But he refused to comment further.

According to the police, the VIP Protection Unit comes under the force’s security wing. It is a low-profile detachment of around 120 officers running all aspects of government security including full-time protection for the chief executive and visiting dignitaries.

During the 2007 chief executive election, an elite police officer protecting then incumbent Donald Tsang Yam-kuen dropped his Glock 17 pistol and ammunition during a scuffle while fending off protesters as the then candidate was visiting Election Committee members and unionists from the social welfare subsector in Yau Ma Tei.

“It was lucky that the gun did not go off, otherwise the consequences would have been unimaginable,” Tsang wrote on his blog after the incident.